Posts Tagged 'NPR'

A classical guitarist from Kykotsmovi

When I was younger I studied classical guitar with Tom Sheeley at Northern Arizona University. I had dreams of becoming a professional Spanish classical guitarist, but that aspiration never came to be. Below is an article about a sixteen year old Hopi guitarist named Malcolm Mowa from Kykotsmovi. One of his compositions titled “Aerial Ice” was recently aired on National Public Radio. I am looking forward to hearing more about this Hopi musician in the future.

The story and photo are courtesy of Stan Bindell and the Navajo-Hopi Observer (NHO). Many thanks to Wells Mahkee Jr., Managing Editor of NHO, for granting me permission to republish this story on my blog. Here is the link to the original source: http://navajohopiobserver.com/main.asp?SectionID=74&subsectionID=111&articleID=12247

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

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Hopi student’s music hits national airwaves

Stan Bindell, The Observer

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

POLACCA, Ariz. – A Hopi High School music student has hit the national airwaves. Malcolm Mowa had his musical composition, “Aerial Ice,” performed on National Public Radio. He wrote the piece, which was performed by Ethel, a four-string quartet.

Mowa, a 16-year old junior, said Ethel performed great and he was excited about having his piece aired nationally. He initially wrote the piece as part of the Grand Canyon Music Festival when artist in residence Raven Chacone came to Hopi High and taught six students how to compose.

Mowa learned about his piece being aired nationally when it was announced over the school’s intercom. “It motivates me to want to do more with music,” he said.

“I want to go to school for music composition and guitar.” He also wants to learn to play the piano. Mowa said his parents were excited and happy about his composition being aired nationally.

“Everybody wants to hear it, but nobody knows when it was played,” he said. Thomas Irwin, band teacher at Hopi High, was equally ecstatic about Mowa’s piece getting national airtime.

“It was great, cool,” he said. “There are new people at NPR working on programming.”

The new programming allows the top high school students from throughout the nation to have their pieces aired. One of Irwin’s former students at Monument Valley High School received a $10,000 endowment for his work.

Irwin said he hopes Mowa stays serious about his musical work because he can major in guitar or composition, and scholarships are available to him.

“I’m confident he can get scholarships,” Irwin said. “He’s a great example of what can happen when kids apply themselves. Chances are we’ll get more success stories.”

Irwin said Mowa’s fellow students were happy for him, although some teased him about his success.

Mowa said “Aerial Ice” was a happy tune about how he felt at the time. It’s classical music and it’s just instrumental; there are no words. He added that he likes classical music better than hip hop or rap.

“It’s better than a lot of the music that’s out there. It’s mellow, nice – not bad stuff,” he said.

Mowa likes alternative rock, classic rock and pop music.

Mowa is also part of the Hopi High guitar class, which recently performed at the Hopi Cultural Center and other places in the community.

“It was weird because we were playing off to the side while people were eating, but people were happy we were playing. They would put down their food and listen,” he said. Mowa, who also plays baseball, maintains a B average and hopes to get a music scholarship to college. He is the son of Uberta and Clifton Mowa from Kykotsmovi.

Navajo-Hopi Observer

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“Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa”: Speaking Hopi to Grandpa

When I received my advanced degree in history from UC Riverside my grandparents made the trip from Moencopi to Southern California to see me graduate. We had a big celebration and one of the gifts my grandparents gave me was a card with a check inside. After opening the card I immediately thanked my grandmother, but I waited to thank my grandfather until I was able to do so in Hopi. As my grandfather was sitting in his truck, ready to make the trip back to the reservation, I said to him: “Kwa’a, kwakwha’ um nuy siiva maqa” (“Grandpa, thank you for the money that you gave me”). He looked up at me and said one word: “owi’.” The literal English translation of “owi'” is “yes,” but in this context it meant much more. At that very moment I connected with my grandfather at a level that would have been impossible in English. Hopi was his first language and it is the language that he prefers.

Growing up in the mountain community of Flagstaff, I thought my grandfather was a man of few words. I do not recall having long conversations with him when I was a child. But as I got older I realized that my grandfather was a man of few words in English and not Hopi. I sometimes wonder how my relationship with my grandfather would be different if I knew how to speak more Hopi. In my immediate family we say that kwa’a only listens to my dad, because my dad speaks to him in Hopi. We say this jokingly, but there is truth to it. Even today when our family gets together my dad and his father can be heard conversing in the Hopi language.

A lifelong goal of mine is to be able to speak fluent Hopi. I have a long way to go before I reach this goal. Hopis are proud that much of our culture remains intact. Many of our ceremonies continue, we remain on portions of our ancestral lands, and Hopi is still spoken. But our parents and grandparents will tell you that fewer and fewer Hopis are able to speak their language. Fortunately, efforts are being made by people such as Sheilah E. Nicholas of the Hopilavayi Project and many others to encourage and help Hopis reverse this problem.

On a related note, Louellyn White, one of our American Indian Studies postdoctoral fellows at the University of Illinois, and Teresa McCarty of Arizona State University, recently informed me about a new story that National Public Radio (NPR) released on Hopi language and youth. The title of this program is “Hopi Teens Worry About Loss of Culture.” This program briefly examines Hopi language loss at U.S. government schools and the issues Hopi youth face as they try to live as Hopis in today’s world. It is a fascinating story. If you would like to listen to the 5 minute program and/or view the transcript, click here.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert


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© Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS, 2009-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert and BEYOND THE MESAS with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About the author

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert (Hopi) is Professor and Head of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona.

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Revisiting the Hopi Boarding School Experience at Sherman Institute and the Process of Making Research Meaningful to Community (JAIE, 2018)

Education beyond the Mesas: Hopi Students at Sherman Institute, 1902-1929 (University of Nebraska Press, 2010)

Introduction to Education beyond the Mesas (2010)

The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue: Voices and Images From Sherman Institute (Oregon State University Press, 2012)

Foreward to Don Talayesva’s Sun Chief: An Autobiography of A Hopi Indian (2013)

Foreword to Kevin Whalen’s Native Students at Work: American Indian Labor and Sherman Institute’s Outing Program, 1900-1945

A Second Wave of Hopi Migration (HEQ, 2014)

Marathoner Louis Tewanima and the Continuity of Hopi Running, 1908-1912 (WHQ, 2012). Winner of Spur Award for Best Western Short Nonfiction, Western Writers of America (2013)

Hopi Footraces and American Marathons, 1912-1930 (AQ, 2010)

The Hopi Followers: Chief Tawaquaptewa and Hopi Student Advancement at Sherman Institute, 1906-1909 (JAIE, 2005)

Constitution and Bylaws of the Hopi Tribe (With all amendments, click to download)

Click to listen to KUYI On-Line

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